On the Matter of Dan Linford

There is nothing Frivolous about this Friday, sorry. Content notice for predatory behavior and sexual assault.

Why am I doing this? It’s not for the clicks, since Dan Linford is not someone super well-known outside of certain feminist-oriented circles within atheist circles. It’s because, as someone who was directly affected by this and vouched for someone who clearly isn’t okay, I don’t want him to reemerge unscathed elsewhere. Just look at his current Google search results. If you were new to him and going out with or befriending him, you’d feel the results vouched for him. I know I would. There are trustworthy, known names associated with his, but there’s nothing trustworthy about Dan Linford.

He didn’t have all these people vouching for him when he emerged in my circles, and yet I trusted him. Unbeknownst to us, he was reemerging after having exhibited predatory behavior in another social circle. This is a classic case of a missing stair. And we all stumbled on it, including me.

I want to ensure that this follows him, unlike what happened with him at Virginia Tech’s Secular Student Alliance group prior to us knowing him. Dan Linford should never, ever be able to wriggle his way out of being known for who and what he is ever again. He will be held accountable. Even if someone in his life were to be willing to forgive him or believe his remorse, at least they will be able to see the paper trail and make that decision with partial knowledge, since this is not even close to documenting everything shady, creepy, predatory, and just plain wrong that he has done or tried to do.

A Short Summary

As of this writing, his online presence seems to be almost completely gone, but I can, will, and do confirm and affirm that Dan Linford is not safe, especially for femme women and femme AFAB non-binary people (the latter group I will refer to from here on out as “femmebies” for brevity). He has behaved inappropriately in a deliberate way that lent itself to plausible deniability (a classic manipulation tactic), up to and including his confessions of sexual assault, along with the stock-standard patriarchal use of women and people perceived as women for emotional labor.

He uses autism and mental illness to excuse his behavior, but that’s not a reasonable excuse or explanation especially when many of the people caught up in this latest round are autistic and/or mentally ill themselves. Indeed, in my own case, I feel my autism made me more vulnerable to his tactics. Furthermore, his pattern of predatory behavior speaks to a level of manipulation and sophistication rather than to random social blunders or awkwardness. The dots connect into a clear picture. As of this writing, a conservative estimate places about two dozen people as having put forth personal accounts of his predatory behavior, many with eerie similarities.

If you believe me to be unreliable because of my radical progressive politics and/or the fact that I had flirtations with Dan Linford, know that Kile Jones removed Dan from the journal he was part of and Kaveh Mousavi broke the news publicly on Facebook first as well as put up a guest post about it.. Unlike me, these two men are hardly considered to be SJW scum and don’t have a history of exposing and outing predators and harassers — and none of them were flirtatiously involved with him, either. Additionally, the non-public figure behind the original revelations that encouraged others to come out with their own accounts has absolutely no motive other than the safety of others to have said what they did. Indeed, many of the accounts below are from private individuals rather than any Movement types.

Testimony & ACcounts

At least two dozen people have emerged with accounts that they have disclosed on public Facebook threads about Dan Linford, as well as in private messages and friends-only posts. One of those people is me. To protect the privacy of the people who aren’t me (even those on public Facebook threads, which aren’t as searchable as this will be) as well as keep this as brief as possible, the accounts have been summarized and condensed with all pronouns changed to gender-neutral they/them/theirs (to avoid confusion in the actual testimonies, I will not use any pronouns when referring to groups of multiple people) and any identifying details obscured. Additionally, everything here has to do with his sexually predatory behavior, with no references to ideological or other issues he may have had in the past, since I am not privy to nor personally involved with any of that.

I firmly believe in respecting stated pronouns and gender even if the person is unworthy of respect. He has claimed to not identify with traditional masculinity to multiple people on multiple occasions. I have also heard one report that he once claimed to not be a cis man, but as he never told anyone to change their pronoun use regarding him nor did he clarify his gender identity to that one person in question, I will refer to Dan Linford as a man and by he/him/his.

The Revelation of June 2, 2016: The dam around Dan Linford’s behavior in my circles broke during the wee hours of yesterday. I had already known about Dan’s sketchy behavior with this particular friend of mine, who I will refer to as the original reporter, but they decided to come forward to a selectively-chosen group of people (including me) about the extent of his behavior. He initiated friendship with them in a sexually-charged way. Later, he seemed unable to take their “no” as an answer to his repeated and frequent sexual advances towards them, cloaking his lack of regard for their consent as social awkwardness, with question phrasing, and by apologizing for it later but continuing with the behavior. He admitted to having committed sexual assault in the past (his partner said no, he didn’t care), indulging in sexual feelings towards his students (lusting after them and explicitly telling people about it*), and having had a sexual relationship with a student (claiming she came onto him). Kaveh has since compiled the screenshots. That’s not even to mention the excessive sexualization of public and semi-public atheist figures both he and they knew and sometimes were friends with. The original reporter’s account on their own words is here.

Dan Linford sexual assault

Kaveh, the original reporter, and I were all soon flooded with accounts. As of this writing, I’ve heard from over a dozen people. Kaveh has heard from two dozen. While there are some overlaps, all my people haven’t reported to him and vice versa. This means, at the very least, there are twenty people who can personally attest to his behaving in a predatory way.

Virginia Tech as a Grad Student: He attended VT from 2011 through 2014 and was a member of the Secular Student Alliance affiliate there. Multiple accounts from people who were students at the time point to him behaving so badly at SSA meetings that physically-large male students had to be deployed to protect female students from him and new female members were warned about him. He stalked at least one female student and more than one was run out of the club by his behavior.

One account has him attending feminist club meetings and behaving so badly with a new member that she never came back, at which point he was told he was no longer welcome (and good on that feminist club!). Some of the accounts of his general creepiness as a grad student came from people unaffiliated with the SSA group or any atheists I know of. One of the people who was at VT with him reports that he knew they were in a monogamous relationship and pursued them anyway to the point of near-stalking.

Update 6/8/16: I have received an account from a woman who knew him at Virginia Tech in 2011. Back then, she was 19 and he in his late 20s. He tried to rape her when she was mostly knocked out from all the liquor he was happy to provide her with despite her being underage. She mercifully woke up enough to be able to stop him. He later apologized and blamed it on having Asperger’s, his go-to excuse when confronted about his wrongdoing.

Secular Student Alliance as a Speaker: For a period, Dan Linford was on SSA’s Speaker’s Bureau. There is a reason he isn’t anymore, a reason involving one big and several small instances of completely inappropriate behavior.

As an Instructor at the Schools That Have Employed Him: He has had at least one sexual relationship with a student and openly lusted after many others.*

Dan Linford student

Update 6/8/16: The student with whom he had a sexual relationship reached out to the original reporter as well as me (under a pseudonym). Their relationship followed the same pattern of emotional coercion, gee-golly-I’m-so-awkward manipulation, steering of platonic topics of conversations into sexual ones, and basically everything else present in his interactions with others. She says that she wish she were surprised by the reports but isn’t.

Feminist-Oriented Circles Within Atheist Circles as a Friend: He has a long-standing habit, dating back to his Virginia Tech days, of whining and complaining about how women don’t want him, but also of soliciting sexual communication from many if not nearly all the women and femmebies he knows (especially feminist and social justice oriented ones) using flimsy tactics. The former was a tactic to gain sympathy and facilitate the latter, and it worked. To give a personal example, he once used the word “tap” when I obviously meant “press a fingertip on a cell phone screen” to segue into talk about sex, and then acted shocked that I responded positively even though we had flirted before. This play-acting at being a bashful and romantically-lonely sort of guy was completely disingenuous since he clearly had plenty of willing flirting and sexual partners, myself in the former group. I suspect he did it to seem less predatory, prey on sympathies, and deflect suspicion.

He has a tendency to go for people he perceives as weak and/or vulnerable. To get personal again, he enjoyed some very sexually-charged flirting with me right after he knew I was hurting badly after having been dumped but stopped as soon as I mentioned a very empowered hook-up that I’d had, and even slut-shamed me for it to some extent. I never tried to flirt with him after that and neither did he try to flirt with me. It was frankly a relief for me since I had no idea how to confront him about the slut-shaming, which was framed by a haze of plausible deniability.

He has a history of not taking “no” for an answer when he is sexually interested in someone, both online and offline. He also made much of the fact that he refused to talk about emotional matters with men, preferring to have women do his emotional labor. He had a tendency to speak academically and intellectually with men and more socially with women and femmebies (though there are exceptions to this). I myself initially bonded with him over philosophy, but he very soon stopped talking academic shop with me even though I still very much wanted to. He has blamed his inability to understand women and relate to men with not identifying with traditional masculinity despite being surrounded by many men and women and non-binary people who model and live non-traditional gender.

On at least two occasions, he hit on people who lived far from him and invited himself to visit them and stay on their couches. In one case, he had literally just met them. In another, they barely knew him.

He misrepresented his relationships with people to those of mutual acquaintance. For example, almost everyone who knew both Dan and the original reporter thought they were romantically involved though Dan and they had never even flirted and they were totally uninterested in him. He did nothing to disavow mutual friends of this notion and indirectly fed into it. In addition to fabricating relationships out of whole cloth, he also exaggerated and skewed details of his actual flirtations, claiming he had to fend off advances when he was the one who had turned interactions sexual.

Dan Linford misrepresents

He has himself reported multiple occasions of women “suddenly” cutting off contact with him, from the woman who used to give him rides to several ex-friends to at least one former partner. He would disclose the accounts for sympathy and bemoan his lack of ability to connect with women… to the many women and femmebies who he knew would be sympathetic to him (i.e. who were deeply emotionally connected to him).

He paid a lot of lip service to promoting women and feminism but rarely if ever signal-boosted non-male writers, not even feminist or female philosophical writers, philosophy being his field. Furthermore, he made a big show of deleting and blocking men in need of education about feminism and gender (so much for true ally work). He also enjoyed mocking students on social media for perceived intellectual defects despite paying lip service to ableism elsewhere.

He advocated for violence against anti-feminists in a way that feminist women often don’t (at least not to the extent he does) as well as postured in support of extreme feminist views. For example, he advocates that rapists be shot and/or castrated. This is part of him lending himself cover for his actions. It is part of his manipulation strategy that he has used over and over again.

Relevant Links

Conclusion & Speaking Personally

He was my friend and (for a period a while back) flirtation partner, someone I thought was an ally, someone I enjoyed spending time out with in a group the one time we met in person. Many people trusted him and liked him, including me, misperceiving the scattered red flags as yellow until all the information was aggregated and we could finally connect the dots. A lot of us have been socialized to think the best of people and to be forgiving, and the halo effect was definitely at play. He’s yet another self-identified feminist man that talked the talk — and hard — not in spite of, but because of not being able to walk the walk. He actively worked to shield his character and behavior. I suspect he has a thing for conquest and/or validation since at least half a dozen willing flirtation partners weren’t enough for him and he just had to pester the unwilling.

If you’re reading this for whatever reason, Dan, know that I hope you have learned not to underestimate the power of femininity. Femininity is not weakness. The femme women and femmebies you so like to fuck with will not be fucked with. It’s too bad for you that we care more about each other than we ever did for some posturing male fauxminist. If you really want to be a better person, do better. Get into therapy and/or turn yourself in. Stop confessing stuff to feminists. Feminism is not your path to salvation and feminists are not your free therapists. If you have even a single shred of integrity, practice what you blathered on about so much.

And now, a humorous video that illustrates the bizarre yet touching bonding that can occur when people disclose creepy behavior to each other, because I need it and I suspect others might, too (translation):

  • If you teach people who aren’t underage, there is nothing wrong with experiencing attraction. It happens. However, telling people about it is not okay. Feeding the attraction by talking and daydreaming about it is not okay. Dating students is not okay.

Edit 6/4/16: Changed “latter” to “former” in the first paragraph about how he operated in our circles because rounds and rounds of edits and compiling confused the wording. Also, added a link to his Patreon thanks to Edouard’s comment.

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On the Matter of Dan Linford

16 thoughts on “On the Matter of Dan Linford

  1. 5

    As far as I know academia.edu is basically a social medium–Dan would have been in control of his own page and its content, not any employer. It’s a bit like linkedin.

    1. 5.1

      That would be true, except that cnu.academia.edu is a sub-domain specifically set for any submitter from Christopher Newport University. He’s not listed on the Philosophy department page there .

  2. 6

    Is this merely a matter of getting the word out about the missing stair, or taking steps to actually fix it? If the latter, what would the fix be? What social sanctions or other consequences should follow from this revelation, in your view?

    1. 6.1

      I don’t even know how you’d “fix” someone who uses people wising up to his manipulation as an opportunity to hone his ability to prey on the next group. All I can hope for is that people know what his MO is and don’t trust him the way we did.

  3. 7

    […] of rape full-time, between Brock Turner’s sentencing and his family’s rapist apologia, yet another member of atheist circles being outed as a serial predator, and a (now former) Facebook friend in an incredibly cruel and self-centered rape-denial shitstorm […]

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